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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sonogram? Sono-sham!

First published: April 23, 2003

A friend of mine just announced he and his wife will be having a baby several months from now. Actually, she'll be having the baby, he'll just watch. Because these people are clever and tech savvy, they sent the announcement in the form of an audio file emailed to all their friends.

When you (well, me really) open the file you hear, well, nothing. Not really nothing, it sounded kind of like static recororded from a quasar billions of light years away. Some people who listened to it thought their computers were broken. Other people, however, didn't hear static, but a baby's heartbeat. These people were, not surprisingly, parents.

Modern medicine has brought us many wonderful things, laughing gas comes to mind. Occasionally, however, they just make up medical procedures for people who are vulnerable. And who's more vulnerable than a pregnant person? A guy in a coma, that's who. People who are in comas aren't all that funny, though, so we'll go back to making fun of pregnant people.

Pregnant people are vulnerable because their hormones are so far out of whack. Because of this, they'll do just about anything. Those pregnant people, they'll eat pickles with ice cream, they'll cry when they see a really good dry cleaning coupon in the newspaper, they'll even watch Paulie Shore movies. They're capable of just about anything, even producing another human being out of materials they already have inside their bodies.

Doctors are hip to the erratic and, dare I say, suggestible nature of pregnant people and are ready to cash in. They offer to sell parents-to-be an audio tape and photo of their child, before he/she/other is even born.

They call the procedure "ultrasound" and "sonogram." Both procedures are complete shams. Anyone (who isn't pregnant) who sees an ultrasound photo can figure it out. An ultrasound is basically a photo of what is known in the television world as a "snow pattern." A snow pattern occurs when a TV can't pick up a signal. In other words, it's static.

When a normal person sees static on a TV, they either change the channel or make threatening calls to their cable provider. When pregnant people see static on a TV, they see a baby. This is not uncommon. If you hold up any object in front of a pregnant person (an apple, for example) and ask them to identify it, they will invariably say, "That’s a baby, a baby!" This is a good test if you're curious to see if your friend is really pregnant or just trying to make up excuses for sudden weight gain

Pregnant people love these photos and love showing them to their friends. They'll hand you this photo of, well, nothing and say, "Look at the photo of our baby!" You'll look at it for a few moments, hoping that an image will appear if you stare at it hard enough, sort of like those "magic eye" pictures. After a while, you get the sinking feeling that comes from knowing a friend of yours just paid $300 for what is essentially an electronic ink blot.

This is a tragedy that is replaying itself daily across this nation, but I'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness. Many of you reading this will one day be pregnant, perhaps even on purpose, and I'm willing to do my part to help you during that trying time.

Instead of getting an ultrasound for $300, send me $50 and I'll send you a video tape I made when the antenna broke on my TV a few years ago. It's mostly static, but sometimes you can make out figures of people deep in the background, perhaps even Sienfeld. You can show it to your friends and tell them it's a video of your new child. Don't worry, your insurance will cover this.

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